Another birthday has just gone by and our daughter is one more year older. Sometimes, when we see the self assured girl she has grown into, it seems it wasn’t so long ago that she was a toddler on shaky legs with an endearing two-toothed grin and a single-minded determination for tearing up paper!
I don't usually put personal pictures on this blog, but I just couldn't resist sharing this one of Akshaya with you. That's her, just a year old, at her favourite past-time of tearing up newspaper!
Akshaya, busy at work!
This year, she got to celebrate her birthday thrice!
The first was her traditional birthday. The second one, on the 6th of July which is her date of birth, she celebrated at school with her class and teachers.
Then on the weekend, she invited a few of her friends for a pizza-pasta party. She usually celebrates her birthday at home, but this time she wanted to eat out. So someone else did the cooking while I baked the birthday cake.
Baking Akshaya’s birthday cake is something I’ve been doing since I started to bake regularly. She almost always chooses vanilla, or chocolate, or both as flavours she wants in her cake. Now that kind of choice makes it easier for me but a bit challenging to find a vanilla/ chocolate cake that’s different from the one I baked in the previous years.
I would also want a cake that’s easy to put together given my limited decorating skills, while she wouldn’t want her friends to be the guinea pigs to my baking experiments!
So predictably this year, she wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. She also wanted me to make an eggless no-bake lemon cheesecake as this was also the perfect dessert for a couple of her friends who do not eat eggs.
After some searching I found this old fashioned chocolate cake that looked promising, from the reviews following it. It is eggless and since it uses oil as the fat of choice, is very easily adapted to a vegan cake if required.
What I really liked here was that the frosting requires comparatively much less butter than most frostings and is therefore not so heavy and doesn’t really coat the tongue.
In the past, I have found a few cakes made with oil, while moist, tend to leave a “pasty” feeling on the tongue. In order to avoid this I used butter in my cake. I also added an egg after reading some of the reviews.
I made some more changes. I used milk instead of water, and coffee decoction which I find intensifies the flavour of chocolate and makes chocolate cake much better. I used the chocolate chips since the cake was being made for a group of teenagers. You could leave that out and it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
The original recipe requires 5 cups of powdered sugar for the frosting but I found 3 cups more than enough. I powdered my sugar at home and couldn’t get it as fine as store-bought powdered sugar. You can see that my frosting is slightly grainy because of this. Surprisingly, no one noticed this but you might want to ensure your sugar is fine for a shiny frosting.
This cake doesn’t rise much so it is perfect for layering. I used two cake tins instead of three as that was all I had. So I made a two layered cake. The frosting recipe given below was enough to fill and cover this cake.
My eggless no-bake lemon cheesecake
The cake was a winner (and the no-bake cheesecake was much enjoyed too), and the pizza-pasta party a success. A couple of unexpected surprises including a visit from her Dad (he’s now away from Goa on a new assignment) had Akshaya declaring that this birthday week had been the best ever!
Easy Chocolate Cake With Cocoa Frosting
(adapted from epicurious)
The Chocolate Cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 cup warm milk
1 cup coffee decoction
150gm salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (optional)
In a bowl, stir the butter and warm milk together until the butter melts. Add the coffee decoction and vanilla and stir well.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar and whisk together to blend.
Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid in the bowl with a wooden spoon, till well blended. Do not over mix.
Divide the batter equally between two 9” greased and floured cake tins. Evenly sprinkle 3/4 cup chocolate chips on each cake tin of batter and bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 30 minutes till the cakes are done.
Cool the cakes in their pans for about ten minutes. Remove from the tins and cool both cakes on a rack.
For frosting the cake, use the cocoa frosting recipe below, or one of your choice. Place one cake with the chocolate chip side facing up. Cover the top with frosting and place the other cake with chocolate chip side facing down. Cover the sandwiched cakes with frosting and decorate as desired.
The Cocoa Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (you may need more)
approximately 8 tbsp milk
Whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder till well mixed.
Put the butter and vanilla in a bowl and, using a hand held mixer, beat till it is light and fluffy. Add the cocoa-sugar mixture and beat well. Add about 5 tbsps milk, and beat until the frosting is creamy and fluffy.
If you feel you need more milk or sugar, add the required quantity and beat well. Refrigerate the frosting till the cakes have cooled completely. If the frosting has set, keep it out till it softens and then beat it till smooth, before frosting the cake.
This chocolate cake serves 10 to 12.